People Moves: Soylent Founder Steps Down, Crowley Named CEO

Newly appointed Soylent CEO Bryan Crowley

Soylent Founder Steps Down as CEO

Soylent founder and CEO Rob Rhinehart stepped down today, announcing in a blog post that it was time to “pass the reins” to a leader with more management and beverage industry experience. He will remain on the company’s board of directors as executive chairman and is the largest shareholder.

President Bryan Crowley, who joined the company in May, will take over as CEO. There are no current plans to hire a new president.

“I have seen the company evolve with scale, and done my best to guide it toward my vision and support those involved,” Reinhart wrote. “Along the way I have seen my role as CEO evolve, especially enjoying the process of delegating my responsibilities to more skilled and experienced scientists, managers, and executives. These specialists are clearly better at their roles than I would be, especially if I were handling tons of other responsibilities simultaneously, which is the exciting early stage of a startup. But that time has passed.”

According to Rhinehart, a three-year roadmap has been put in place for the company.

Rhinehart was the best-known member of the founding team at Soylent, which was born in 2013 out of the remnants of a communications technology startup when Rhinehart began experimenting in his kitchen to make a nutritionally-complete beverage. After launching the company and going on a 30-day all-Soylent diet, he made headlines by suggesting the product could replace food.

In May, Soylent closed a $50 million Series B funding round led by GV, formerly known as Google Ventures. After several years only selling via e-commerce, the company made its first launch into retail this summer with 7-Eleven stores in Los Angeles.

In July, co-founder John Coogan announced his resignation as chief technology officer, but remains a shareholder in the company. He was succeeded by former DRINKS VP Charath Ram Ranganathan, who took the new title of VP of technology.

Crowley, who prior to Soylent served as the chief strategy officer for KeVita, assumes the chief executive role in a period when the company is increasingly embracing retail with plans to expand outside of its current presence in California and Texas. The brand is currently in more than 500 retail locations.

Crowley wrote on the company blog that he agreed to assume the CEO role on the condition that Rhinehart remain a “guiding force” for the brand.

“His continued support is invaluable, and we are all indebted to his passion and commitment for the company he created and the community he cultivated,” Crowley said of Rhinehart. “I look forward to working with him in his new role in the months and years to come. And thanks again to the Soylent community – I am excited to continue getting to know you in my role as CEO as we work together to change the way the world looks at food.”

Reactions on Soylent’s online Reddit community varied on Monday, with several users congratulating Rhinehart and Crowley, while others feared the move signified a further shift toward mainstreaming.

Rocket Brands Founder Joins Cannabis Industry

John Cochran, CEO of food and beverage consulting firm Rocket Brands, has jumped around quite a bit in the beverage industry, but his latest move brings him into new territory as the COO of medicinal cannabis manufacturer Loud Pack Inc. According to his LinkedIn profile, Cochran joined the California-based company last month.

In addition to his role at Rocket Brands, which he founded in 2016, Cochran is also a member of the board of directors at both at Hollandia Produce and Flow Water. Cochran has previously served as CEO at Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery, AquaHydrate, and Pabst Brewing Company.

Boxed Water Welcomes New Director of Trade Marketing

In a move aimed at expanding its distribution and making inroads with millennial consumers, Boxed Water has announced former Smirnoff brand manager Rodrigo Nunez as its new director of trade marketing.

Nunez comes to Boxed Water having most recently led the customer and trade departments at Mast-Jagermeister U.S. and Disaronno International where he focused on multiple retail channels in national, regional and local accounts.

“I was drawn to Boxed Water by its unique positioning in the market and its dedication to sustainability,” Nunez said in a press release. “Sustainability affects purchasing decisions more than ever today. As this category continues its mainstream growth, I am excited to join that Movement.”

In the release, Boxed Water CMO Rob Koenen said Nunez joins the company as it seeks to expand its display programs at retail in 2018, with three seasonal campaigns planned.

“Sustainability has gone mainstream,” Koenen said. “We are excited to empower our customers with messages and a product that meets the desires of today’s consumer.”

Jen Berliner Promoted at ZÜPA NOMA

Drinkable soup maker ZÜPA NOMA last month announced Jen Berliner as the company’s new president. Berliner joined the company in October 2016 as VP of marketing. In her new position, Berliner will be charged with continuing to expand and grow the ZÜPA NOMA team and drive cross-channel category innovation.

“I joined the ZÜPA NOMA team last year because I truly believe that the brand is on a path to change consumer behavior for the better,” Berliner said in a statement sent to BevNET. “For me, it’s about more than just selling a product, it’s about promoting a convenient, accessible, better-for-you lifestyle – and in this new role as President, I look forward to further educating consumers and retailers about all that ZÜPA NOMA has to offer.”

ZÜPA NOMA is a portfolio brand launched under CPG incubator and investment fund Sonoma Brands, which is led by KRAVE founder and former CEO Jon Sebastiani.

“Jen lives and breathes the ZÜPA NOMA lifestyle and her success in brand strategy and building consumer loyalty will continue to be instrumental in the brand’s growth across ecommerce and retail,” Sebastiani said. “When looking to fill the role of President, there was no question that with Jen at the helm, ZÜPA NOMA will continue to lead the pack and drive further growth and innovation in this emerging category.”